Thursday, October 20, 2005

When the Eagle Hunts by Simon Scarrow (Book 3)

Author: Simon Scarrow
ISBN # 074726631X
433 pages

In the bitter winter of 44AD, the Roman troops are awaiting spring to continue their invasion of Britain. But the weather is not the only source of cruelty – the legionaries must face a terrifyingly deadly & ruthless foe: The Druids of the Dark Moon. When the wife & children of a Roman General are held captive by the Druids, the message is sent that they will be sacrificed to the Gods; death by burning in a giant construction – a wicker man. It is up to the Centurion, Macro, & his young Optio, Cato, to mount a covert rescue mission with the help of two native Britons; members of the Iceni tribe. One of them has a name that will be remembered throughout history – Boudica.

This is the 3rd book in the series & the action is fast paced from the start. Scarrow manages to portray the reaction of the Romans to the unexpectedly harsh British weather perfectly & you really feel for the poor souls of the 2nd Legion as they wait out the winter & prepare to renew their battle efforts.

The introduction of a famous historical figure – that of Boudica – is a clever touch. Most people know of her story & it adds a nice edge to the tale as we see her people making themselves allies of the Romans in their conquest. I expect more of her own story will be interwoven with that of Macro & Cato throughout the following sequels.

Once again, Scarrow thrusts the reader into the thick of things & you can almost hear the clanging of sword on sword & the cries of the wounded & dying as he describes scene after scene fluidly. Again, the historical references are impeccable, & although it is stated in the author’s note at the back of the book that the Druids of the Dark Moon are a fictional sect, it is only too easy to believe that such extremists existed then, as they do today. It also made a change to see Druids portrayed as champions of their people, keen strategists & fierce warriors, rather than just spiritual leaders - it adds a nice twist.

I’ll certainly be getting hold of the rest of the series, as I am simply dying to see what happens next!

Rating: 8/10


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